Roy Scheider’s Most Unexpected Role Is Also His Best Performance


The big picture

  • Roy Scheider's best performance in
    All That Jazz
    shows a completely different side compared to his usual roles in grittier crime dramas.
  • Joe Gideon, Scheider's character, is a tense director and choreographer who deals with personal and professional struggles in the film.
  • All That Jazz
    explores deep themes of mortality and grief, showcasing Scheider's versatility and handling of complex emotions.

One of the most recurring images in cinematic pop culture history is the famous dolly-zoom on Sheriff Brody in Steven Spielberg's jaws. Roy Scheider, who plays Brody, is the face of this moment. He gave an iconic performance in one of the most recognized and beloved films of all time. Scheider was also a frequent actor in many grittier police dramas during the 1970s, playing detectives in films such as The French connection i The Seven Ups. But these badass crime busters, while excellent, aren't Scheider's best work.

Scheider's best performance is also his most atypical, playing the role of passionate director and choreographer in Bob Fosse1979 movie, All That Jazz. The film follows Scheider as Joe Gideon, a jaded, difficult, but extremely talented and respected stage and screen director who is juggling a film in post-production and an upcoming Broadway musical while internally obsessing with his own mortality. Gideon is a flashy, cheeky character who charms in his own way, but abandons the warm affectation that people love about Scheider. jaws performance The film, which was largely based on Fosse's own life, gave Scheider the opportunity to make a massive impression in a whole new light. All That Jazz it earned Scheider an Academy Award nomination and remains one of his most acclaimed performances. The variety and depth of emotion offered by the character of Joe Gideon is masterfully handled by Scheider, who is digging into the psyche of Fosse himself to extract this excellent performance.

All That Jazz

Director and choreographer Bob Fosse tells his own life as he details the sordid career of Joe Gideon, a female dancer and drug addict.

Publication date
December 20, 1979

Execution time
123 minutes

20th Century Fox

'All That Jazz' showed a different side of Roy Scheider

Scheider's other best-known performances are all as detectives or police officers. Even jawswhich is certainly not a cop movie, still features him as the sheriff, albeit in a smaller town. Andy Griffith kind of way Scheider wore a badge well and his performances in films like The French connection communicated a lot of noise, while jaws you see his fatherly charm radiate off-screen in quieter moments. All That Jazz is comparatively lower. There are no killers or killer sharks, but the film still puts Scheider on the ropes. Gideon is a character who struggles internally to manage his personal and professional life while maintaining his health. From the opening moments, which give us the now iconic “It's show time, people!” stirrup which has been referred to even recently Better call SaulGideon is tension personified.

Scheider's other notable screen performances are much more measured characters. In jaws, is the trusted and reliable figure who keeps a clear head. His qualities as men make him capable of being the one to achieve extraordinary feats, such as surviving combat with a large deadly target, in a fairly grounded and relatable way. Scheider as Joe Gideon is anything but measured. This is an extremely nervous performance. At any given moment, there seems to be a million things bouncing around in Gideon's head, and he's not able to handle just one at a time.


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The musicality and performance qualities of the character of Gideon, himself a dancer, show a side of Scheider that is arguably absent from any of the grittier cop dramas he's appeared in. The film's existential themes position Scheider to explore a wide range of emotions related to grief and death, all of them masterfully treated. All That Jazz it's a standout not just because of the distinctive qualities that set it apart from Scheider's work, but because it's truly a great performance that deserves as much, if not more, credit than the handful of films that may be better known.

Roy Scheider on 'All That Jazz' offers a morbid look into the inner psyche of Bob Fosse

All That Jazz it's a film so informed by the director's own experience that it's impossible to ignore the autobiographical elements. A legendary figure in show business, Fosse was a dancer, choreographer, actor and director who dazzled on screen as well as on stage. To give you an idea of ​​how busy Fosse was, he won a Tony and an Oscar for directing in 1973, for Pippin i cabaret respectively. The popular movie podcast, Blank check with Griffin and David covered the film along with Fosse's other directorial duties and All that JazzZepisode guest, Lin-Manuel Mirandathat Scheider interpreted in the Sam Rockwell i Michelle Williams– driven Fosse/Verdon series, which partially dramatized the making of this film. Miranda brought with him a copy of the original script which was revealed to have not even changed the names of the characters from the real-life people Fosse based them on. Gideon is known as Fosse and Audrey is known as Verdon, among others. Despite this, All That Jazz it is far from a vanity project.

The film, which is a fairly incisive portrayal of Fosse's personal vices, doesn't exactly paint Gideon as a hero. He feels disconnected from the world around him and obsessively devoted to his art at the expense of his health, social life and happiness. Gideon's work schedule and the events of the film are directly referential to Fosse's experiences that he tries to stage Chicago while editing his 1974 biopic, Lennystarring Dustin Hoffman. Fosse suffered a serious heart attack while working on these projects and had to undergo open heart surgery to treat his condition. The near-death experience sparked an interest in Fosse to explore his own mortality on screen.

Roy Scheiders' larger-than-life performance remains one of his best roles

While the first half of the film largely unfolds as a straightforward story about the manic artistic process of a Fosse-like character, Scheider's Joe Gideon experiences dreams in which he flirts with an angelic presence portrayed by Jessica Lange. Halfway through the film, Gideon suffers a heart attack and spends the rest of the time hospitalized, having visions of his own death and imagining himself reckoning with his past relationships and his artistic legacy. Scheider encompasses every aspect of Gideon's larger-than-life existence.

Watching an artist grapple with his own mortality is always morbidly fascinating. Fosse is one of many who have explored the end of their own lives in their art. David BowieThe last album, released days before his death, directly addressed his own death and accepted the temporary nature of life. In the theater world, Jonathan Larson's work seemed predictive of his own untimely death, and for this very episode of Blank Check, Lin-Manuel Miranda was even directly influenced by All That Jazz in its adaptation of Larson Tick, Tick… Boom!

In the world of film, Fosse's may be the most directly biographical, and it certainly took on an even heavier tone when he died of another heart attack at age 60, just nine years later. All That Jazz was released Scheider may not have played Fosse directly in this film, however his performance delves into everything that made Fosse tick in his later yearsand the movie simply wouldn't work without some of the charm or intensity he brought to Joe Gideon.

All That Jazz not currently available for streaming in the US


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